I was born and raised in Western New York. Most of my family worked in the steel industry around Buffalo. I had no real interest in steel and instead "forged" a passion for wood. My first introduction came from my oldest brother Charles. He had a penchant for working wood and his enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I remember the shadow boxes he made and sold that consisted of numerous compartments that held various simple objects. Seeds, dried flowers, skeleton keys etc. I always found them fun and fascinating as they highlighted and displayed ordinary objects in special ways.
In 1985 I graduated with an associates degree in the Fine Arts with an emphasis in fine woodworking. It was an amazing experience in which I was introduced to some of the leading woodworkers in the field. This provided the impetus for a life long passion of pursuing a living in the wonderful field of American Craft. I studied hard and excelled in the discipline oriented programs. A man is limited by his tools so we were taught to use hand tools first. Before putting plane to wood, you must first make sure it is functioning to its optimum. You must also understand the relationship each part has to each other. Our lessons involved breaking down our tools to fully understand the relationships of the parts and how they were to work. It required us to lap, polish and sharpen them till they became intimate extensions of our hands. It is a lesson that stayed with me.
After graduation, I took a job at a local shop in my hometown of Buffalo New York. The shop specialized in custom woodworking, cabinet making and antique restoration. I utilized most of the skills I had acquired in school. It was a great experience but left me wanting more. In 1987 I had an opportunity to work for a company that designed, built and installed custom displays, interiors and trade shows for most of the Museums in Washington DC. I moved to Northern VA and broadened my skills and capabilities. It was a wonderful experience but it too, left me unsatisfied in creating my own artist visions. Around Dec of 1988 I read an article written by Tony Lydgate, in Fine Woodworking Magazine. A successful woodworking Artist living in Palo Alto California, Tony wrote a wonderful article describing his business, designs and thoughts in general regarding the contemporary crafts movement. It was an inspiring piece as it was the exact type of creative outlet and business I wanted to build. Well as fate would have it, Tony placed a help wanted ad in the same magazine a month or two later. I anxiously replied to it with a cover letter and resume. Tony called me and we agreed to meet at the American Crafts Council show (Baltimore) he was exhibiting at that February. I had been to the shows before and it is such an awe-inspiring experience. Talent abounds with eccentric artists living their dreams. It was clearly my calling and something I had decided to strive for.
Tony offered me a job so I packed up all my belongings and moved to Sunny California. Tony gave me invaluable experience and one I will forever be grateful for. Unfortunately the early nineties experienced a mini recession and forced a layoff. I felt it was the perfect time to try my hand breaking into the Crafts market alone. I was armed with numerous skills and valuable experience. I was having excellent responses to most of my work. I was getting more than my share of publicity.
More to come……………………..